I stumbled upon this editorial piece on the Furniture Society website that I thought worth sharing. The writer ponders the question,”What do artists know?” but the more interesting notion explored is that of the artist passing on knowledge through the object or piece created.
Certainly when a furniture-maker decides to build a piece inspired by, or in the vein of, say, 19th century furniture, there is inherent in the final rendering a bit of “knowledge” of the time period with respects to style, aesthetics, methods and material. To go one step farther and derive from a specific craftsman–like a Thomas Seymour, for example–is to transmit a more specific form of knowledge through the piece.
I was particularly drawn to the writer’s citing of a Yoko Ono project “Voice Piece for a Soprano” as an example of a work of art that passes on knowledge–in that example the writer decided that the knowledge passed on by Ono’s piece is of Japan and nature.
Reading of Ono made me think of another of her works, “Ceiling Painting,” which originally was on exhibit at the Indica Gallery of London in the 60’s. Pictured here, the display was a ladder positioned in the middle of the room which viewers had to climb. At the top, a magnifying glass dangling from a string enabled the viewer to read the tiny printed word affixed to the ceiling: “Yes.” Story goes it was this exhibit that started John Lennon and Ono down the path to love and marriage.
Ono’s “Ceiling Painting” has always stayed with me because it captures the power of affirmation. Surely Ono, like most artists, must have faced many doubts in her creative endeavors. The positive mindset separates those who get to step back from a finished work with some modicum of pride (relief) and those who threw down the tools long ago.
I read Bruce’s blog entries and I’m struck by the man’s optimism and “yes I can” attitude. He is facing down some personal woodworking challenges (full blind secret mitered dovetails) even as he rebuilds his burned-down workshop.
Certainly the Forum is filled with like-minded, like-willed woodworkers of all levels of experience. But I wonder how many consider their projects more than merely functional? What kind of “knowledge” are you passing on through your project? What will the final work tell us about you, your life, your experiences, your influences, your world? As conversation around the question, “What is beauty?” heats up in the Forum, I wonder what else besides aesthetics and function gets considered when approaching the next project.